Tribes emerge over sports betting

Native American tribes have emerged as key players in the debates over whether countries should legalize sports together with some opposing the notion as it may threaten other folks and their casinos encouraging legalization but as long as they maintain a monopoly.

In most nations, tribes are battling sports gambling or taking a go-slow strategy only because they worry it could force one to reopen decades-old agreements that give them exclusive rights to operate casinos and provide kinds of betting.

“The tribes have a major-league chair at the desk,” explained Bill Pascrell III, a lobbyist for gambling interests looking for legalized sports betting across the nation.

Six states have combined Nevada in allowing sports betting since a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year opened the doorway to its expansion, and legalization has been considered in over 20 other nations.

Back in Minnesota, a bill seeking to legalize sports cleared its first hurdle before this year. But that’s likely to be as far as the step goes, in substantial part because the politically powerful tribes of the state oppose it.

Betting”is the sole powerful economic development tool the tribes have had,” John McCarthy, executive director of the Minnesota Indian Gaming Association, said that the committee.

The tribes, that have contributed millions in campaign donations and also operate 21 casinos, are concerned about allowing sports betting.

In Texas, the only sport is almost certain to die. It had been released by a Democrat, the minority party, at a country where casino operators in Oklahoma and Louisiana have contributed tens of thousands to keep gambling out. Two Oklahoma tribes have given more than $5 million into Texas officeholders and candidates since 2006.

Sports betting measures introduced in Arizona and Washington state will also be known as longshots because of opposition or ambivalence.

In certain states sports have not been introduced in any way. That’s true in Oklahoma, as well as California and Florida, which are still home to politically influential tribes which have been cool to the idea.

But elsewhere tribes would be the ones causing the legalization efforts.

Even the Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes have rights to casino gambling in Connecticut and are currently operating with the governor’s office to include sportsbooks. Sportsbooks that were running were begun by two casinos in New Mexico though the tribes obtained explicit permission.

Back in North Carolina, a bill pushed by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians would permit the tribe to provide without forcing it to create any concessions betting on sports and horse races in its casino near Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Conservative groups have cautioned about the dangers of more gambling, but the legislation has so far sailed through committees in the state Senate. The tribe is one of the top political contributors of the state.

“They’ve been incredibly excellent stewards of their revenue, and it is transforming that neighborhood,” he explained.

Like other interest groups, tribes ensure they have access through contributions to lawmakers and governors. Governments have donated over $114 million into political committees and candidates within the last ten years, according to an Associated Press analysis of data.

In certain states, such as California, allowing sports would probably take a constitutional amendment. That and hesitation usually means that the NBA’s Sacramento Kings will need to wait perhaps to allow gaming in a package that the group dedicated for that purpose within the Golden 1 Center arena.

Arizona is the most case of a country where tribes are the essential players at the legalization argument but are on opposite sides.

The Navajo Nation is currently pushing for a step that would give tribes the exclusive right to run sports betting away their reservations. Tribes could place gambling kiosks in non-tribal pubs and private clubs.

But other Arizona tribes oppose the legislation, saying it could hurt casinos on reservations.

Lawmakers in several states aren’t eager to drive the problem from tribes without support, stated Hilary Tompkins.

“It’s not worth the pain of participating in a struggle with all the tribes in their states,” Tompkins said. If states”open the door to non-tribal sports betting, the tribes will say,’We are going to decrease our earnings for you.’ And that may wind up in court.”

Minnesota state Sen. Roger Chamberlain, chairman of the taxation reform which passed this year’s sports betting bill, acknowledged it will be virtually impossible for the measure to be successful without financing against the tribes.

“They’ve got momentum and are telling people they do not want it to go anyplace,” he said. “I believe that is somewhat unfair, but we’re prepared to converse with them and safeguard their interests.”


Associated Press writers Jonathan J. Cooper at Phoenix; Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Arizona; Susan Haigh in Hartford, Connecticut; Sean Murphy in Oklahoma City, Gary Robertson in Raleigh, North Carolina, along with Paul J. Weber in Austin, Texas, contributed to this Report.


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